Property, deception offences up in Bendigo while murder rate remains high

By the numbers:

Property and deception offences have spiked in Bendigo during the past 12 months, while the murder rate remains at a five-year high.

Property and deception offences jumped by 20 per cent, from 4585 in March 2016 to 5531 in March 2017, figures released by the state’s Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday reveal.

Meanwhile, there were seven homicide and related offences recorded in the City of Greater Bendigo during that time, down slightly from the nine recorded in the previous 12 months, but still more than three times the rate recorded in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Bendigo superintendent Darren Franks said the high number of murders in the area during the past two years was an “unfortunate spike” and not part of a wider trend.

“All of those are solved, certainly the most recent ones are still before the courts and generally speaking they are between parties known to each other,” he said.

“All offenders have been processed since 2006 and they’re either in jail or coming up to court.”

The biggest spike in property and deception offences fell within the deception category, which rose by more than 50 per cent from 350 offences in 2016 to 533 offences in 2017.

Superintendent Franks said deception covered a range of offences involving “stealing by tricking the victim”, the majority of which increasingly revolved around credit card fraud.

“The PayWave cards are certainly one of the main areas that cause us grief, we do find that wallets and handbags are stolen from offices or in shops in shopping centres and then shortly thereafter the credit card, and specifically the PayWave, is used over the 24-hour period until the card is stopped,” he said.

“The good news around deception is of the multiple offences there’s only one deception that remains unsolved.”

The next biggest rise was in theft charges, up by a quarter from 2506 offences to 3170 offences during the 12 month period.

The most significant falls were recorded in stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour, which fell by more than half, from 363 offences in 2016 to 171 offences this year, and arson, with 72 offences recorded this year, down from 115.

Superintendent Franks said the fall in stalking and harassment could be “100 per cent” attributed to a greater police focus on family violence.

“Victoria Police is getting far more mature around how they deal with certainly recidivist offenders and repeat victims,” he said.

“Not only do we focus on the numbskulls that are committing violent crime but we focus on the victims as well and provide as much support as we can and as much advice and link them in with services so that they get away from that cycle of violence.”

Superintendent Franks said police in Bendigo had been targeting theft offences since the start of the year and predicted that would be reflected in the next quarter’s statistics.

“We’ve instigated a rather broad crime strategy to address not only theft of motor car and theft from motor car but also burglaries and we’ve seen some massive decreases in crime since February,” he said.

Drug cultivation and manufacturing charges also fell, while trafficking and usage offences remained steady.